The season rolls into October and Christmas is fast approaching, yes I said it! The EPL season is relentless and the past weekend saw a tough one for the Phoenix. Saturday the Phoenix took on the Bracknell Bees, bolstered by the signing of Frankie Bakrlik the Bees have had a mixed start to the season, struggling for a sequence of events. Following that away trip the Phoenix would return to Deeside to face the current league leaders the Basingstoke Bison. The Bison have improved their roster quite a bit this year and, are another team to go down the import goaltender route capturing the former Edinburgh Capitals goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky.
Saturdays trip to Bracknell saw the Phoenix come away with a 4-2 victory but, that only tells one side of the story. By all accounts it was a very tough game for the Phoenix. The Bees have one full extra line when compared to the Phoenix plus, the end of the game saw some tasty bits of action with Spearing/Galazzi being ejected from the game for the home side and, Kovar being ejected for the Phoenix. Bees TV will be well worth the viewing this week!
First Period: The Phoenix welcomed the Bison to Deeside for the first time this season with both sides looking to complete a 4 point weekend. The Bison coming off a superb win against the Tigers and the Phoenix, after a tough win in Bracknell. It sounded like both teams had very tough saturday nights which would mean sunday's encounter would be a real battle. The period got underway with both teams battling hard, no one really dominating the game in the early stages. The visitors took the lead when Reynolds found Karpov breaking down the left wing with speed. His pace took him round the Phoenix defence and in on Fone, Karpov scoring a superb goal at 4min 28sec. Despite falling behind the Phoenix kept battling the Bison and saw some chances begin to fall their way, Hiadlovsky looking a little shaky in goal. The hosts got on the board when Joe Baird was called for interference. On the resulting powerplay Nico Aaltonen scored from a superb pass from Satek, the game tied at 7min 42sec. Bison re-took the lead just after the halfway point in the period when Shaun Thompson took advantage of a Phoenix giveaway to feed Joe Rand who gave the visitors the lead at 11min 32sec. Bison held the lead for a few minutes before the Phoenix levelled once again, after hard work from Ben Wood behind the goal he found James Archer in front to score at 15min 55sec. After that flurry of goals the period ended 2-2, both sides unable to assert their control and both looking exhausted from their saturday night efforts.
Second Period: The period opened up much like the first, Bison and Phoenix working hard but the play not quite living up to the usual Phoenix/Bison tussle's. The home side took the lead for the first time in the game when Ben Russell sent a pin point pass up centre ice to find Satek who raced in on Hiadlovsky to slot home and give the Phoenix the lead at 27min 48sec. As with the game so fare that lead was short lived and the Bison equalised through that man Karpov again. During a goal mouth scramble when all the Phoenix had to do was swing a stick and clear the puck, Karpov found some space and a free puck to jam it home and level the game at 29min 01sec. Phoenix managed to create some chances themselves after the Bison goal, the highlight of which was a superb effort from Kovar who's shot, beat Hiadlovsky but range the post and bounced across the goaline and out. Really unlucky but no goal! There would be one more goal in the period, one for the visitors. That man Karpov again, in an almost carbon copy of his first of the night, broke free from the Phoenix defence to go in on Fone alone. Scoring his breakway effort to give the Bison the lead, and his hattrick goal, at 38min 11sec, Mogg and Vantroba with the assists.
Third Period: The third period was a struggle for both teams, looking exhausted neither side were able to make any clear cut chances. The Phoenix had one powerplay opportunity during the period, with Vantroba sitting for interference but the Phoenix PP could not capitalise. The period wore on with the home side unable to level the game and, despite pulling Fone for the last 1min 37sec the equaliser could not be found and the Bison hung on for the win.
Verdict: Bit of a strange Phoenix/Bison game really, not played anywhere near the usual intensity or skill despite a few superb individual efforts. It really looked like saturday night had taken it out of both sides. The players looked tired but credit to both for working hard. Each goal was either a brilliant piece of individual skill or a fortunate bounce. Credit the Bison and Karpov for taking the chances given, I do feel the Phoenix deserved something from the game. Not necessarily the win but at least a point! Never mind, a game to chalk off and move on!
Bracknell 2 Phoenix 4
Phoenix 4 Bison 5